Santa on stage at Carols by Candlelight

Get ready for a star studded line-up

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is synonymous with Christmas Eve, and this year’s presentation promises to be especially significant. With the public absent from the Bowl for the first time in the event’s history, Carols by Candlelight will be exclusive to you at home. So, sing along and settle in for what will be a very special night of television. We are honoured to have some familiar faces and brand-new stars will grace the stage to perform everyone’s favourite Christmas songs and carols, including: • The cast of the internationally acclaimed hit musical: Hamilton • Singer-songwriter and ARIA Award winner Dami Im • Powerhouse vocalist Casey Donovan • Jamie Cullum, the fastest-selling jazz musician in British history • Rock music singer-songwriter Ella Hooper • Viral sensation and children’s favourite Jimmy Rees • Number one recording artist Isaiah Firebrace • Back by popular demand, Rob Mills and fellow music star Bobby Fox • The Voice 2020 winner Chris Sebastian • Movie star and opera singer Silvia Colloca and Tenor Michael Leonardi And of course, it wouldn’t be Carols without our favourite family members Marina Prior, David Hobson, Tim Campbell, Anthony Callea, Denis Walter and Silvie Paladino performing your cherished Christmas songs.  As always, these stars will all perform under the baton of musical director, maestro John Foreman AM, assisted by Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight choirmaster, Doug Heywood OAM. Tune into Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight live broadcast from 8pm AEST, December 24 on Channel Nine. To view the full line-up visit our performers page here.    16 Dec 2020
David Campbell and Livinia Nixon in Christmas baubles

Meet your 2020 hosts

  Livinia Nixon will make her co-host debut at this year’s Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight, teaming up with fan-favourite David Campbell for a night of Christmas cheer.  “I am thrilled to be involved in my first Carols by Candlelight alongside David, in what has truly been a year like no other,” Livinia said. “There has been so much hardship and struggle, and to quote one of my favourite carols, ‘We need a little Christmas’. I’m hoping we can help people focus on the joy of Christmas and what we have to be thankful for.” Carols by Candlelight will look a little different this year, with no audience on site due to public health considerations. Instead, we invite you all to pull out the picnic rug, settle in front of the TV and spend #carolsathome with us this Christmas Eve. “I always love this time of year. I think this year, more than ever, we all need to celebrate the festive season with joy, with loved ones and with carols,” David said. “It will be different not seeing the crowd holding candles up in the air, or the kids singing along, but this Christmas Eve will be as magical as ever. And remember, Santa Claus and his reindeers have special permission to travel to every country in the world to spread the Christmas cheer.” Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight will air live from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl from 8pm AEST, December 24 on Channel Nine. Fans who are blind or have low vision can tune in to their local Vision Australia Radio service to listen to our audio described broadcast. Sign up to the Carols Club for further updates.  27 Nov 2020
Carols choir waving to audience

The countdown is on for Carols by…

With only 50 days until Christmas Eve, the countdown is on for Vision Australia’s beloved Carols by Candlelight from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The event is working closely with broadcast partner, Channel Nine, to produce a magical Carols by Candlelight from the Bowl stage for the millions of people who tune in from around the country. A significant part of Australia’s Christmas tradition, this year the event will look a little different with no audience on site due to concerns about public health. After working with our stakeholders on the possible options for this year’s event, and using the most up to date public health advice available, Vision Australia has taken the tough decision to change the way this event comes to life due to the uncertainty around COVID-19. Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton understands Carols by Candlelight is an event near and dear to so many Australians, but having a healthy and COVID-free Christmas remains the top priority, as well as the safety of the public, its staff and the many volunteers who support the event. ‘In our 83 years this is the only time we’ve had to do this so it’s with the utmost disappointment that we’ve had to make this decision,’ Mr Hooton said. ‘While everyone involved would have loved to have had a crowd this year at Carols by Candlelight, we do urge our loyal fans to still be part of the big night with their family and friends from the comfort of their lounge rooms or backyards.’ Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne always attracts Australia’s music theatre’s brightest stars and this year is no exception. Audiences are encouraged to deck their living rooms with tinsel, leave out some biscuits for Santa, a carrot for Rudolph, and settle in front of the TV to sing along with the star-studded line-up who will grace the Sidney Myer Music Bowl stage. Mister Hooton said, ‘Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate, but also to raise money to help children who are blind or have low vision to live the life they choose. ‘Next year, we look forward to welcoming back the thousands of people who make the annual pilgrimage to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, enjoying Christmas Eve together again under candlelit skies,’ said Mr Hooton. Channel Nine’s Director of Television, Michael Healy said, ‘In a year like no other, our broadcast of this year’s Carols by Candlelight will be more special than ever before. Viewers can hope to see all their favourite Carols stars they’ve come to expect as well as some exciting new faces bringing you a magical performance of the sounds of Christmas.' For all those who usually attend the event in person, we encourage you to tune in to Channel Nine and enjoy what we know is going to be another wonderful Christmas Eve Carols performed by a roll call of Australia’s best artists.’ Arts Centre Melbourne CEO, Claire Spencer, AM said 'Carols at the iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl is a cherished Melbourne tradition. As a long standing partner of Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight, Arts Centre Melbourne would have dearly loved to have welcomed a live audience to the Bowl as a powerful and positive symbol of Melbourne’s recovery. We are respectful of the decision and will continue to work closely with Channel 9 to ensure an amazing Christmas spectacle.’ The full line-up will be announced closer to the event. Read the full media release here. Sign up to the Carols Club here.  04 Nov 2020
Paul next to piano

A star on the rise!

Paul Kapeleris’ life changed in an instant when his musical career skyrocketed to fame after an extraordinary performance of Andra Day’s Rise Up on popular television program, Australia’s Got Talent earlier this year. The now 23 year old with the angelic voice and exceptional piano playing skills is the 2019 Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador. The talented musician was born with only 15%; he now only has 5% vision which is slowly deteriorating. Paul found a new meaning for life when his mother encouraged him to start piano lessons at the age of eight. ‘’It was very difficult as I couldn’t see the notes. Basically my teacher told me to practice and feel the notes with my eyes closed. The piano has a set structure so I don’t have to look to play the piano anymore. There’s a lot of muscle memory going on,’’ Paul explained. From a young age, Paul would watch talent shows on television such as X Factor and Australian Idol, and would dream of doing something similar as he grew up. To Paul, music was what gave him the confidence and freedom to truly be himself. Earlier this year, Paul completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in music, which came after years of dedication to the piano and music. Inspired by his mum, music teachers and professors, Kapeleris has had the privilege to learn from a variety of people over the years. Kapeleris finds inspiration across the music industry with his idols being Sam Smith and Chris Stapleton for their ability to connect with their music and audience. ‘’I love Ed Sheeran’s songwriting ability, and Gary LeVox and Tori Kelly for the absolutely stunning vocals. All of these incredible artists have sculpted my own artistry in some way, and I am eternally grateful for their drive and passion to make music.’’ As Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador, Kapeleris hopes to provide inspiration to those who don’t think they are good enough or have what it takes. ‘’Vision Australia has allowed me to live a life I would never have been able to live otherwise. They have provided me with support, got me out of the house with young adult social activities, and have taught me life skills through occupational therapy. Interacting with other people who have vision impairments is an enriching experience that, for me, would only have been possible through Vision Australia.’’ ‘’As someone who has lived with a severe, degenerative vision impairment for all of my life, it means the absolute world to be given this opportunity. We are strong. We are powerful and can do anything.’’ ‘’It is quite daunting knowing that I will be performing in front of an audience of millions of people on Christmas Eve. Not being able to see anything helps! It’s just me and that piano on the stage.’’ The rising-star is treating this journey as something special, something to be cherished with every second . Alongside writing his own music, Kapeleris is willing to take on every opportunity that comes his way, he’s going to grab it with both hands and never let go!     13 Nov 2019
Luna on the playground

She's as bright as the moon...

We’d like to introduce you to someone really special!   Luna is nearly three years old and has approximately 10% vision.   “I had never been around a child who has special needs. When Luna was born it was hard as I just wanted to be in her shoes so she didn’t have to go through what she was dealing with.’’   Sarah was just 19 when she had Luna. When Luna was three months old, she had an MRI scan which showed that she had Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Nystagmus (where her eyes shake) and one eye turned in. There were also concerns that Luna could have pituitary gland problems.   Luna’s dad Jake knew something wasn’t quite right when he noticed Luna wasn’t focusing on certain objects such as the television and the hanging mobile above her bed.   With Luna being their only child he didn’t have much of a reference, but when he spotted other children and their ability to focus, Jake and Sarah decided to speak to a professional about their daughter.   Once Luna had been diagnosed, Sarah and Jake reached out to Vision Australia to seek support.   Luna is now a happy girl who is comfortable at home but still struggles when she is in a new environment.   The hardest thing for Sarah and Jake is not knowing what the future will hold for their daughter.   “We don’t know if Luna is going to need full time help when she’s 30 years old. It’s difficult not knowing what we’re going to be needing in the future to give her an opportunity to live a full and wonderful life.”     13 Nov 2019
Melbourne tram

The best way to get to Carols

So you’ve got your tickets, and you’ve prepared your picnic and your blanket, but what’s the best way to get to Carols? We’ve prepared this little guide to help you have a happy and painless experience getting to the event. Public transport The best way to find out how you should get to Carols on public transport is to check PTV have a journey planner which can help you work out the best route from your door to the event. The PTV website will also let you know if there are any delays or issues on the day, so check in! If you’re coming into the city by train the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is about a 15 minute walk (about one kilometre) from Flinders Street station through the Queen Victoria Gardens. You can also catch a tram from Federation Square outside Flinders Street station to the Grant St stop and walk from there. Driving in If you want to drive to Carols make sure you’ve worked out where to park. There will be some accessible parking available on Linlithgow Avenue right outside the Bowl for people with Parking Permit for People with Disabilities. If you’re using these parking spots make sure you have your sticker or pass to display! The next closest available parking is Arts Centre Melbourne, a 10-minute walk from the venue. The best way to enter the Arts Centre Melbourne Car Park is to take the Sturt Street Exit from City Road (when travelling west-bound on City Road) and make a left into the Arts Centre Car Park. Please note that due to road works, you cannot access Southbank Boulevard from St. Kilda Road. Dropping off If you’re getting dropped off at Carols the best spot for you is the corner of Linlithgow Avenue and Government House drive. Friendly staff from the Arts Centre will be based there to offer assistance. If you need assistance there will also be a golf buggy taking people from the corner of Linlithgow Avenue and Government House drive into the Bowl. You can pre-arrange this service by contacting Arts Centre Melbourne on 1300 182 183 or on the day by speaking to Arts Centre staff.   However you’re getting to the event we’re looking forward to seeing you there! And if you’re thinking of travelling light why not read about all the food and drink we’ll have available onsite? 19 Dec 2018
4-yr-old Alfie sits at the playground

A story of hope and determination

“I stared intently into my second baby Alfie’s eyes, desperately trying to remember if it was something I’d seen before. ‘I’m being silly,’ I told myself and picked him up again, his warm face resting up against mine.” “It was a few weeks later I was looking adoringly into those same eyes when I saw it again, his eyes were constantly ‘flickering’. It was no longer a surprise as I was noticing it all the time now.” Diana Fisk, mother to William (6) and Alfie (4) recalls her first few months with Alfie with a heavy heart but, as Alfie prepares for kinder next year, she and husband Rob have a new determination and a positive outlook on the amazing things that Alfie will be able to achieve. After Alfie was diagnosed with Nystagmus – a condition of involuntary (or voluntary, in rare cases) eye movement, that may result in reduced or limited vision – there were tears, but surprisingly, through those tears came something different. “This challenge could shape him in 
a way we never could have imagined.” The sadness and fear started shifting for Diana and her husband Rob as they realised that along with this diagnosis there was the hope of something new. They decided not to think about the limitations and focus on empowering Alfie. “We now understood the challenge that had been dealt to our little boy,” Rob says. They made a decision right there and then that they would take his lead on the life he would live. He would literally be viewing the world in a different way, and they could only imagine what he would be capable of with that unique perspective. To help accomplish that, the family reached out to Vision Australia, firstly to get support and helpful information via its website and more recently to help to prepare Alfie for his first big milestone – going to kinder next year. Alfie’s Vision Australia specialist Sue, will visit Alfie at home regularly and will also go along to the kinder with the family to talk to the staff, explore the school and visit the classroom to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible for Alfie. “He can’t see things in the distance, so Sue and the teaching staff will also ensure he has a front-row seat in the classroom!,” Diana adds. And, the Vision Australia team will be there for Alfie, as he discovers his personal challenges. Support varies, from orientation and mobility training, provision of Feelix library kits, his education and even helping with employment. “It’s amazing to have such expertise available to ensure that Alfie is able to fulfil any dream that he may have growing up,” says Diana as she reaches out to the Australian community. “With your help to support Vision Australia, fears can be replaced by determination, by pride and by hope.”   Alfie with Louise from the Feelix Library  “We now 
the challenge that had been dealt to our 
little boy.” 29 Nov 2018